My personal New Year’s resolutions have not changed much in a decade. Run more, find my abs, become a morning person... you get the picture.
Professionally, too, the winter vacation is a good time – with a mulled wine in one hand and a mince pie in the other – to take stock and think ahead to the year ahead and how you might improve your skills as a teacher.
Here are three ways I intend to do just that and that I think are actually achievable…
1. Get down with the kids
I consider myself fairly technologically adept; I know my way around a spreadsheet and I once kept a Tamagotchi alive for 30 days.
Except, I know I’m ageing when I was asked by an 11-year-old if I’m on TikTok and my response was “What’s a TikTok, is that like the Floss?”
I do now know what TikTok is; while my first impression is that it’s not likely an appropriate platform for the primary classroom, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be a relevant and engaging tool for teaching and learning.
The challenge of making a sixty-second clip of themselves in French can be embedded in just about any topic; I can then edit them together, à la TikTok, and share it with their peers.
Or if nothing else, at least I’ll be a bit more au fait with what they’re talking about.
2. Sing about elephants on trampolines more
Having initially trained as a high school teacher, I’ve discovered I’m far more passionate about primary languages.
Research shows the earlier we start children on their polylingual language acquisition journey the more likely they are to succeed in languages in later years.
Yet in 2021, I am going to finally face my biggest fear: Nursery and Reception. They’re sweet, but they’re just so small!
I plan to spend a lot more time observing my colleagues, sitting on the carpet, singing songs about elephants on trampolines, and observing language acquisition in the early years.
3. Drink more at work
I may have put this one in just for the sub-heading, but I do need to start drinking more water at work.
Far too often have I hit the mid-afternoon “wall” of fatigue or ended the day with a splitting headache because I just haven’t stayed hydrated during the day.
Drinking more water during the day is a basic part of self-care: something that should be at the top of all our resolutions lists this year.
After all, we give our souls for our pupils and often forget to look after ourselves.
So, this year maybe I will run more, maybe I will do those exercises that will help me find my abs, perhaps, and hopefully, I become a morning person.
But I’ll also make sure my professional goals are given just as much time and focus, because any improvement in the classroom – including for ourselves – is worth the effort.
Tim Tuckley is a primary languages specialist at British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park